Tag Archives: Biography

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

Synopsis: The story of Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims and journeyed to England. Review: I read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, aloud to my almost 5-year-old, and I have to say I’m a little obsessed. First of all, I was prepared to stop if it veered into anything offensive, like a noble savage stereotype, and that never happened. All I felt like I needed to explain was that we don’t say “Indian” anymore, we say “Native American.” Bulla does give Squanto a…

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Synopsis: How the cells from the cancerous cervix of an impoverished black woman from Baltimore came to be the foundation for basically all scientific research with cells in the world. Review: I was very excited to learn that my public library was going to begin lending Kindle books. The list was pretty dismal, but I had heard good things about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so I decided to give it a try. Henrietta Lacks was born and raised and ultimately died in poverty.…

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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Synopsis: The true story of a young man who gave up everything to live off the land in Alaska, only to die a painful death by starvation. Review: Into the Wild was a quick, fast-paced read that left me both satisfied and wanting to know more. Christopher McCandless’s decision to go his own iconoclastic way towards a wanton death seems crazy to most of us, yet author Jon Krakauer paints such a full picture of his personality that there doesn’t seem to be anything more…

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What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Synopsis: A collection of essays written by Gladwell and published in the New Yorker. Review: Bite-sized is how I like Malcolm Gladwell, and What the Dog Saw contains some of Gladwell’s most memorable essays. His profile of Ron Popeil, creator of the Showtime Rotisserie, stands as one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered, and this past spring I assigned it to my writing students, who were suitably enthralled. Gladwell gives you the greatness behind the showman veneer, as well as some of…

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The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson

Synopsis: Subtitled “A Plot to Kill the Child King–A Nonfiction Thriller,” this book weaves together the discovery of King Tut’s tomb with his reign as Pharaoh in order to show that he may have been murdered. Review: In The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson turns history into potboiler, but I was less than thrilled. The characterizations were cliched and cardboard, and the writing lacked beauty. I was hoping for something along the lines of John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, but James Patterson…

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The Addict by Michael Stein

Synopsis: One year in the treatment of a Vicodin addict, as told by the internist who treated her with medication. Review: Dr. Michael Stein is an internist specializing in prescribing a drug that blocks the effect of painkillers on a patient. In The Addict, subtitled One Patient, One Doctor, One Year, Stein recounts his journey treating Lucy, a promising young woman whose life has been stunted by an addiction to prescription medication. Lucy is meant to be an Everywoman; a college graduate, she’s a far…

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The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller

Synopsis: A literary critic recalls her childhood love affair with CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and her subsequent disappointment at learning that he was a Christian apologist. Review: I confess that I was hesitant to read The Magician’s Book for reasons that Laura Miller herself would understand. Narnia is mine, I tell you, mine! I had a Voyage of the Dawn Treader cake for my sixth birthday–and I still have my coverless copy. I have read and re-read this series more times than I can…

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Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer

Synopsis: A biography of Shirley Jackson, author of the short story “The Lottery,” and one of my favorite authors. Review: I was inspired to read this thanks to an email I got from Chaucerian Girl. She expressed an appreciation for Private Demons, Judy Oppenheimer’s biography of the woman I believe to be one of the greatest American writers of the mid-20th century. Share on Facebook

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